As the altitude dropped, so did my wackadoo hallucinations (for the most part, anyway -- when I'm stressed, I still get an avalanche dream or wake up gasping as if the air were thin). During the 10-day wait in Islamabad for our flight back to Budapest, the rotten part of my foot got rottener. Bugs made a veritable feast of me (fleas or bedbugs, I'm not sure which). I still have scars from the bites. Worst of all, I developed a crippling case of the whooping shits.
Via Ian Overton
I'm pretty sure there was Pepto Bismol in that pile of meds somewhere,
but at that point, finding it was one impossible task too many.
Once we made it back to Budapest, I spent the first two weeks sequestering myself due to the horrible stench of my frequent farts and the explosive horror show I'd leave in public restrooms. Was it giardia? Hepatitis B? Bad water? All of the above, plus way too much curry? Shit if I know, and that's pretty much the same answer doctors gave me -- though I still say you haven't truly lived until you've walked into a post office in a foreign country and mailed off a sizable sample of your own poop. To this day, variations in my gut flora (such as too much beer) cause the condition to flare back up. I almost cleared out my friend's wedding reception last week.
Via Ian Overton
The surrounding scenery in this photo was a lush green ten seconds earlier.
In addition to all this, I'm a thin guy -- six feet two inches, around 165 pounds. After the expedition I was weighing in at 145 tops, nothing but ribs and spine. I had to buy new pants in Budapest because my jeans would slump right off. I finally returned to a healthy weight around May of that year, and felt physically fit again towards the end of summer.
As for the future? Well, David, Zoli and I have begun making plans for a summer 2016 return to Pakistan for a dual summit attempt at Gasherbrum I and Broad Peak. And one day, despite it all, I hope to return to Nanga Parbat. That mountain beat the ever-loving shit out of me and hit the reset button on my identity as if I were a glitchy Xbox ... and next time, I hope to look down from its summit, ass firmly intact.
Find out more about the expedition on Facebook. Ian would like to thank his team, David and Zoli, Viktoria Komjati and Bryan Garcia for being rad and running media for us, all our supporters on Indiegogo, and our sponsors at Johnnie Walker, CAMP USA, Mountain Hardwear, Princeton Tec, Tubbs Snowshoes, Cold Avenger, and Human Edge Tech. Jason is an editor for Cracked. Impress all your friends by summiting his Facebook page.
For more insider perspectives, check out 6 Ways You See the World Differently When You Can Hear Color and 6 Realities of the Secret World of Paid TV Audience Members.
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